THE HARDEST: TEMPEST’S HEART

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: dreamscape

Farmer Jogesh has a feeling of emotional warmth wash over him. His casual conversation with a man Legion is casual, till he realizes he a spirit who imparted the warmth, whom departs, little idea chosen for a nightmarish exorcism.
3000 words.

 The Hardest: Tempest’s Heart

Evening cool. Young man Jodesh is feet away from the field he tends. Face frowned another day of working his hands. Ease brought by this typical work hour doesn’t make up. He’s accepted a normal day as any other at this point.

 

Proceeding to walk toward. Suddenly hit. A happy feeling, warm, welling up inside that stopped him. Turning his head saw a man nearby. Jodesh turns the rest of his body their direction.

 

Odd, he thinks. Didn’t see him on his trek to the fields. Came out of the fields then?

This guy encompassed a pleasant demeanour about him, middle aged, lived twice as long in appearance. The men chat. ‘In need of something? Came out of nowhere.’

 

‘Thirst makes me ask for your water.’

‘Take some Legion.’ Heeding and gives a drink of water from his gourd and is handed back after a hearty drink. The stranger Jodesh identifies as Legion without any hint of knowing him.

The stranger’s gratitude dubs him, ‘A good Samaritan.’

‘Ha, ha. Too much.’

‘I’ll be the judge. Must be thinking what brings me here. I’m no traveller. Refer to me as…a wonderer.’

 

Jodesh wondered a few moments what’s the difference. Next the farmer having from the beginning of the time to observe him inquires his attire doesn’t mark as one of his people. Legion is polite coated but in a mild, almost indiscernible correction that he’s not entirely unknown to his people. ‘Trust my words,’ he’d passed by.

 

‘My eyes don’t deceive me but my curiosity about the world round me compels I ask – you master of this field?’

His talking partner laughs at master. This Legion brings out the jovialness. ‘Yes. Caught me about to farm for the day. No choice, my life and routine revolve round what snagged me in - the fields.’

 

Jodesh felt like talking. No, opening up to a person unknown to himself. The warm felling put aside the natural guard, mind at ease.

 

‘Farming truly isn’t what I wanted in life if I’m honest. Saddle making brings out my best. Since my younger days trained round them. All the thanks belongs to my teacher pounding his knowledge in my head and hands.’

‘Fate gave you its own lot,’ says Legion. Jodesh nods. Kept going.

 

‘My dearest mom passed scarcely a while ago. From her inherited the fields, no one’s around to work it for her son.’ Deeper still a connection to this harvest land borrowing Legion’s word compels him to stay. A bounty for him and village.

Legion jokes provides for girl and baby, then inquires if mother worked the fields. Jodesh thinks, Huh? A sentence ago he spoke of mom’s recent passing and no sense of forlorn or sadness evidenced from himself. The warmth began with this man remained in that part of the conversation.

 

Something new hit. Realization Legion is no human. Told as much by Jodesh. When Legion doesn’t answer unswervingly, stridently asserts a power from him let his name to be known to a stranger, himself.

 

Legion brings him back to the field’s relation to him. ‘She was very close to the field.’

Jodesh normally wouldn’t but answered straightaway mother worked the fields. Mother took him along when he returned from a region outside his village. Young enough to harden his hands by saddles, good enough to learn farming, she’d say. Push comes to shove his true dream didn’t allow his mind to settle on mastering husbandry.

 

Jodesh says strongly this man a spirit. ‘Can’t be any less.’

Legion doesn’t confirm straight. ‘Your mind is no wall.’

‘Why are you here?’

‘Farmer Jodesh entwined you are now in a very great part of our journey – freedom.’

‘Ours? What’s that mean?’

Offering his hand, the warmth doesn’t permit fear or refusal and takes it. A pulsing sensation in the palm of his left hand while in the handshake that goes after.

 

Legion takes leave. The farmer knows he left, but hasn’t seen him walk out of sight, even stranger his eyes told him he hadn’t vanished either. Since not one or the other, then again has to be something. What reason he mustered told him outside one’s perception.

 

Back home from labour, opens the door. Expected of a medieval peasant existence. Per practice would undress and bathe at night, for once he’ll let the morning see his naked countenance.

 

Commonplace little village went about a peaceful mundane. Morning nature’s hourglass signalling people or animals to be up and about, in activity and chatter. A dirt road with branches off the main artery went in assorted paths. All in the ordinary buildings exactly as expected when peasants under their roofs. People of this means make do with a cemetery in walking distance.

 

Jodesh approaches the river not far from the community. People met on the way exchanged greetings, his bucket moments from touching the water’s surface. The unspeakable broke the surface before his bucket can.

 

Space of a few short moments rose from within the river. His mind barely begun to get an inkling when he held and pulled straight in.

 

Underwater wholly, breathing is no longer his to do. Day’s heat hadn’t time to warm the chilly river. Panic his companion. Incredible as it would feel to anyone when what happened next related to them. Presence of mind to look at what looked at him barely a few feet away.

Not lingering to admire the view, rushed out the water. Thought enough to grab his bucket from the shore. He turns and looks at the river. Rising gradually out the waterway and floating short height above. A hand. Eight feet across. Trumping that, its makeup – faces. Men’s faces, many in number and varied. Not restricted to the hand’s bottom: the top, sides, back, fingers and a single face per fingertip.

 

Per any normal human ran. Reaching the village, slowed to from running to a brisk walk warning whoever villager passed. For his troubles received stares, questions and one grin.

 

His legs cease moving when inside his dwelling. Shut the door and put hands on the table once the bucket dropped. ‘Not about me. Somebody else. I‘ll wake up.’

 

No sooner had he finished speaking a groan. Groan of a multitude in anguish. Outside villagers and animals look up and beyond the village boundary.

 

Rivalling the height of any medieval castle, the wave. A wave of men’s faces, nothing else of a body present, thousands and thousands of them. Hundreds of feet wide. The visages combined resembled a wave. Approaching their collective home, distance and speed portends less than a minute away. None bothered fleeing. Point of running is what?

 

For his part Jodesh pressed hands to his ears. The groans unmistakably got closer and louder, for all it could mean wasn’t ear splitting. The loudness wasn’t it. Gnawing at his soul the inescapable feeling of dread. The vocalizations fade to a stop. Slowly as he dared, pulled his hands away.

 

Thought made sense to see outside. He proceeded to his door. Odd, through the window the outdoors wasn’t sunny.

 

Opening the door, his psyche more affected than the eyes which beheld throws of madness - villagers in throws of it. Movements unnatural and weird. Assorted actions in the street by individuals: walked crazily, crawled on the back, danced with a dog, banged the head repeatedly on a building’s face, stepping backward, pull your hair out, chew your own clothes, twitching while frothing at the mouth, two villagers butt heads repeatedly as mountain rams. Uniting all, facial expressions crazed.

 

Were fine a while ago and out nowhere they…knew all of them.

 

Where’s the sun? Pointing the head skyward saw it replaced with virtually uncountable numbers of faces. Had he been able to see from outside the village, the mass was low, maintaining not much height above the village’s highest structure, covering from above near all the village itself. The faces in the sky point downward for the time being.

 

Slamming his door, runs to the table, kneels and prays disturbed, eyes shut, ‘Lord deliver me!’

 

Speaks as one yet each voice belonged to an individual, in essence distinct. Jodesh, Jodesh, Jodesh, Jodesh.’

Not unforeseeable it’ll maintain the call. Depressed, eyes still shut, ‘What, what, what? What brought Satan?’

Jodesh, called upon you are for a task. Come outside to accomplish.’

‘Legion no? The Almighty caused you to reach my doorstep and test my faith. Weighed on the scales as wicked? There’s not an evil drop in me!’

‘Marked, Jodesh cannot refuse. Come outside.’

 

Eyes burst open. ‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…’

 

The door creaked open ever so slowly. He turned his head and screamed. A woman stands at the door. Corpse to be exact.

 

‘Mother!’

 

Exhumed from the grave, made its way over, movement of limbs facilitated by several faces on her body.

 

‘Jodesh alone can accomplish.’

‘Jogz!’ cries he, ‘You dug up my mother! Hell’s too good!’

Nothing sacrosanct. The entity is all out to crush resistance. To him no hell deep enough.

 

The mass shifts a minutely. Fraction of power begins piece by piece deconstructing the building. Individual brick pulled out their place, each inside an individual’s face’s mouth, a number pool their strength to latch to any wood beam by the teeth and detach from its position, steps, windows too. By the time he stands, outer edge of the whole roof has many faces latched onto it to keep midair. Then shortly itself carried aloft through a hole in the sky that closes back. From outside the wave the roof is a few dozen feet above the collective mass.

The whole process hadn’t taken long. What was left is the floor and table. What was a peasant’s home its former area surrounded by a wall like mass of faces.

 

He has to laugh a bit. Jogz remained where and as she was. Her son could look up above barely twenty feet away a ceiling of numerous faces. Each individually different.

 

Light, a spot of, resided in the palm where the sensation came yesterday. Noticed by only chance. No feeling there. Oh no, the spirit has come for his life!

 

A quick search leads him to a blade – except deed of his mind delusional those fleeting moments. No blade existed to put the edge close to the light to put it out bloodily.

 

He brings his hand to his mouth to bite it out. Faces speaking as one point out what will be achieved as he has been found already? 

Jodesh subconsciously sensed it’d been a marker leading them. What it meant by marked.

 

He thinks better of going through. ‘Tell me why,’ he pleads.

 

‘A lost army.’

 

The clue was it. Jodesh says his people never lifted a finger on not a single man. From among his people, just a petty drop in number, recruited as guides for the great host of soldiers. With so many how could they prevent some dying from thirst? Legion corrects the army was abandoned, left to its fate, swallowed by the wilderness, so that silver could course through the guides’ hands.

 

The story as he knew was the wilderness forced the army home, wherein which the lord enacted executions for failure. His people aren’t to blame. Yet how’s he argue with what in front the eyes?

 

Jodesh hit with sudden realization the army was lost some days ride from his people’s lands – flashes back to the man saying he no traveller but a wonderer. ‘You’re souls of the soldiers!’

 

‘If the task is not done your whole people shall bend to wrath.’ The breaking – to break is to condemn many strangers however all his people. Will not stop at a speck of a village.

 

Resigning himself, weighed down by stress, ‘What is thine will?’

Draw a demonic symbol. He’d prayed scarcely a while ago. Failing God’s test is to mark his soul he contends.

 

The face wall parts and closes behind a man who passed. The man strolls – freakishly walking backward in Jogz’s direction. Stops, faces her. His mom stabbed by the butcher’s blade of Galon, recognized by the body proportions and clothes, hands bloody from his job. Not by the visage, covered by one belonging to the mass.

Her son screams.

 

Floating down is one face from overhead, in the mouth a parchment born of human skin. Pens in this era are feather derived – he took both from the mouth, this much thicker. Why? The writing implement fashioned out of a lower arm bone. Ink red.

 

Drawing the demonic character, the shape glowed white on the parchment. The faces all of them, vanished once the roof immediately carried to the side. Its great crash harmless. Jogz fell to the ground as the parts of his house, nothing to hold them up.

 

The man’s face utterly worn. Human Legion is nearby. ‘Our peace has finally come. Your exorcism complete.’

‘Bring hell’s wrath for an exorcism?’ he exclaims.  

‘The truth the way. Only someone like you could end our journey. Cursed to wander no more.’

Glowering, ‘You, you cursed my village!’ he responds softly. Screaming is just…

 

Legion says his innate kindness, pure heart is liable to make one such as he do things back at the fields: good manner, share water, speak of his past and dream. Legion’s power by no means obliged him to – his pure heart responded to that power. Qualities as to why he was chosen. Escape from the torment in the afterlife is only possible through one with a pure heart.

 

In all eternity’s terror, suffering’s maelstrom, entering the home till now, pranced literally ten minutes.

 

Author’s note – Laid a groundwork of notes since the 6th for this day. Second time I prepared a story for my birthday for you. Admittedly a grim tale. A dichotomy – the famer’s kindness brought a suffering, that ended said darkness.

Name Legion sourced from Jesus as penned in the bible. Naturally my take were the faces. About a couple months ago or less the idea of a sea of faces entered my head and so incorporated here.

Harvest Land I couldn’t resist incorporating the name of another short story of mine. In a short narrative managed to make Jodesh human by peering into his life.

10 August 2020.


Submitted: August 10, 2020

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hullabaloo22

Wow, well this certainly had its horrific moments. Not at all what I expected at the start.

Tue, August 11th, 2020 7:00pm

Author
Reply

How'd you put it? Defy expectations.
Another fine review.

Tue, August 11th, 2020 2:31pm

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